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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Number of Casino Awards Going South?

An editorial last week in the Binghamton-based Press & Sun-Bulletin wants to know exactly how Tyre, NY - where Wilmorite is seeking to build their Lago Resort & Casino despite concerted opposition in the town - got involved in the competition for the Southern Tier license in the first place. 

The rub here is that — as stupid and suspicious as it sounds — the state for casino licensing purposes has chosen to define the "Southern Tier" to include Seneca County, taking the Tier all the way north to Lake Ontario.

Why? you might ask. What were they thinking?

All definitions of the Southern Tier of New York state say Tier counties roughly run along the northern border of Pennsylvania. Empire State Development, the state's chief economic development agency, defines the Southern Tier as Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga and Tompkins counties.

Darned if we know what went on.
Indeed, here's the map of the regions, with what the Gaming Commission deems to be the "Eastern Southern Tier" shaded in pink.

Tioga and Broome are in the southern portion along the PA border, enclosed in blue; while Tyre is not only in Seneca to the north, but towards the northern portion of it, off the NYS Thruway.  Tyre's inclusion for this purpose is, according to the editorial, a "gerrymandered" definition of the region.  And should Wilmorite be granted a license there, it would mean "zero employment and zero economic benefits to our area — the true Southern Tier."  
Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited Binghamton on Nov. 6, 2013 — the day after the casino amendment passed handily, with 57 percent of the vote, and received overwhelming support from Southern Tier counties....The governor spoke behind a podium reading: "Funding for Schools ... Jobs for the Southern Tier."

We're asking the state and, specifically, Cuomo to hold true to that promise.
Hmm, seems as if the governor was quite busy blowing a lot of hot air all around the state on Nov 6, 2013.  That was the same day that the governor visited Sullivan County in a similarly triumphant mode, declaring how the coming casinos would "fundamentally change the economy of the Catskills."  To those in the southern Southern Tier who agree with this editorial page's exhortation that "we need that casino," Tyre is their spoiler equivalent of Orange County.

Except that I'd be a lot more worried if I was a casino proponent in the Catskills than one in Binghamton.  The Tyre casino has serious issues, from the staunch community opposition to the possible cannibalization of the Turning Stone casino, as well as of the Finger Lakes and Vernon Downs racetracks.  The project generated some bad publicity last week when it published an ad which included falsely understated projections for a casino at Tioga Downs (while, as this article points out, raising a legitimate question of exactly how much additional revenue an expanded facility there would generate.)  Besides, as we've discussed, Tyre is a little rural town that is just totally inappropriate for a casino.  I'd be pretty shocked if they get a license there.  (And only a tiny bit less so if it doesn't go to Gural.)

But folks in the Catskills, already apoplectic at the prospect at a casino in Orange County, must be further rattled by the increasing speculation that the location board will recommend only three licenses, with only one going either there or somewhere in Orange County.  
After New York voters approved four upstate casinos last November, four Atlantic City casinos have closed, gambling profits plunged from Connecticut to Mississippi, and new casinos opened or were greenlighted in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts....That increasingly unsettled, crowded market has casino developers and gambling opponents alike speculating that state regulators may award three licenses instead of the four authorized in the 2013 referendum. [Times Herald-Record]
Should that be the case (and assuming that each region would get one....which does not necessarily have to be so), I would have to believe that the Catskills/Hudson Valley license would go to an operator in the Catskills (probably the Montreign/Adelaar project at The Concord).  It just has never seemed possible to me that the Catskills would get completely shut out here; I've been thinking in terms of one for Adelaar (the only developer who said they'd still build should a license go to Orange County), and one perhaps in Newburgh.  If the board is getting concerned about competition, the Catskills region is further isolated at least from the present racino at Yonkers and a future one at the Meadowlands than are the Orange County locations further south.  (As well as from Philly, about to add a second casino.)  However, on the other hand, if the board is instead thinking in terms of trying to get the jump on the Meadowlands, then maybe they are indeed thinking about an Orange location.  In that case, they could be tempted by the big prize - Genting's outlandish and outrageous proposal at Tuxedo, complete with its $380 million bribe.  Though, having said that, I don't believe Genting will get a license there.....they're messing with environmental groups and that project therefore carries the threat of being tied up in the courts for years.

So, we await the location board's next meeting on Friday.  I think it's 50/50, at best, that the announcement comes at that time.

6 Comments:

Anonymous said...

No East Greenbush Casino posted this this morning:
"According to sources within the gaming industry (and read on Twitter), we should not expect a decision from the Gaming Facility Location Board this Friday."

Anonymous said...

Wilmorite tried to buy out petitioners on Tyre's second lawsuit in exchange for dropping the suit. See: http://www.fltimes.com/news/article_4c8b4256-6d4b-11e4-b298-0b10f4acf850.html

Anonymous said...

Great job on Tyre and Southern Tier today. We hope you're right about no casino going to Tyre.

CEW said...

Alan: Your emails keep bouncing back

Alan Mann said...

>>Alan: Your emails keep bouncing back

Shouldn't be, but try alan@timeformus.com

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